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06/28 2011

Amsterdam: a summary.

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Admittedly, I did not do a good job posting anything about the Amsterdam regatta, Holland-Becker.  But I will do my best to weave the story as best as I can recall!

The draw came out late Friday night.  We drew the Australian pair, a Mexican pair and two local club crews in the heat.  We also found out that the Dutch crew, which had placed 6th at the Munich World Cup, scratched.  We were told that they had to load boats for a training camp on Saturday, and were not able to race, but that they would race us Sunday in the second regatta (will explain later).

We knew the Aussies would be fast, and they did not disappoint!  It very quickly became a two boat race.  Because there was no ranking prior to the regatta, we were all the way in lane 7 while the Australians were 5 lanes over.  The progression was that the top 3 pairs advanced to the final – and so in the end we won, the Aussies were 2nd and the Mexicans were 3rd.

In the final Scott and I wanted to race more internally and less impacted by what was happening around us.  That was a great tactic because the Portuguese pair, disguised as a local Dutch pair, took a big swat at us off the start!  We were able to stay very focused and separate ourselves from the pack just after their ‘go’.  We were much happier with our first 1000 meters – and it was nice to win!  We were presented with a medal and everything.

imgres.jpg The day tired both of us out though.  We did as much as we could to recover, but two races is a day is a lot, for anyone.  We had to put that all behind us though and get ready to do it all again on Sunday.  The Holland-Becker is actually 2 separate regattas.  The heats and finals on Saturday had nothing to do with the heats and finals on Sunday.  We went down to the course in the morning and started our warm-up routine for the heat – in which we drew Netherlands 1.  The other heat had Netherlands 2 and 3, and Australia.  As we were about to head onto the we were happily informed that the heats were cancelled because one of the Dutch pairs scratched.  We got to go back to the hotel and rest for a few more hours – heavenly!

When we came back the ripping tail wind with its overcast torrential downpours had all vanished.  The cold, damp 5 degree weather had turned into a sunny and hot 25 degree day.  It was so nice!  We got into our race after an odd delay (Netherlands 1 needed a screw driver for something loose in bow’s foot stretcher).  The start was much sharper, cleaner and consequently faster than either race on Saturday.  We had a really good first 1000 meters and were able to consistently push away from the other boats all the way down the course.  We walked away happy with our progress from Saturday and happy to have the win.  On Sunday they presented us with a trophy (which we only got to keep a framed picture of) and medals.  Great fun!

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We are now in Italy at our training camp.  These next few weeks are going to be crucial for setting us up for the Lucerne World Cup.  In the rowing world, this is the regatta that the vast majority of countries attend, which means the racing is as close to the World Championships as it gets.  We expect a full roster there for the men’s pair.

If you have any questions or thoughts about our racing please feel free to write to me on the blog.  I have to delete all the spam I get to the account, but love to know someone other than my mom is reading it – but I do appreciate that my mother reads it!

Dave

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06/22 2011

Amsterdam 2011

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At breakfast this morning I was subtly reminded how it sounds when I start conversations with: “When I was here in 1999…”  I do have to give honourable mention to Morgan Crooks though, who I was here last with – they were great times, weren’t they!?

Here we are, Amsterdam 2011.  The entry list has not been published.  Scott and I have been told that the number of boats racing here may be higher than expected due to the low turnout in Hamburg last weekend.  We arrived last night and were chatting with Saul Garcia and the Mexican heavy men’s pair while we rigged our Hudson.  Seems there’s great speculation that some strong pairs will be rolling in over the next few days.  Fingers crossed!

Racing starts on Saturday.  I’ll post a race schedule with entries as soon as I get it.

Dave

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05/17 2011

Canadian Athletes Can Fund

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Can you remember where you were when Sydney Crosby scored the OT game winner against the USA to win the crowning gold medal of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics?  I thought so!  So do I; I was sitting on the 16th floor of the Shaw Tower in downtown Vancouver.  The entire floor was donated to the Canadian Athletes Now Fund to create the ‘Can Fund House’.  Here was a central place for athletes and their families to be able to meet, relax, eat, upload, download, whatever – it was AMAZING.  Big screen TVs on every wall, Canadian athletes walking in every hour with their 2010 bling – brought to them in part by the support received by the fund.

The Canadian Athletes Now Fund is a non-profit that raises money for amateur athletes in Canada.  They award the fund twice a year.  The fund is valued at $6000 each time it is awarded.  To put that into prospective, as an athlete at the top tier of sport in Canada I earn $18,000 CDN annually from Sport Canada.  The fund tries to raise 2 x $6,000 a year for each athlete.  For the current application period 671 athletes have applied for the fund – I’ll do the math for you: $4,026,000.

Why is this fund important?  The Can Fund puts money in the athletes’ wallet – allowing them to pay for their needs.  We live in a sport system that rewards success.  I agree with this system, especially coming from a sport that enjoys a fairly stable level of success.  That said, as healthy as Rowing Canada’s budget may or may not be, I don’t see any extra cash to pay for the diapers or mortgage.  So when I was notified this week that my application to the fund was successful I sighed a sigh of relief.  But what of the sports that don’t have funding for camps?  For coaches?  For equipment?  There are sports out there – representing Canada right now in which athletes have to pay their National Sport Organization to be able to race for Canada.  These are the ‘have-nots’ of the COC family.  These are the sports that don’t have top 10 finishes; that medals are out of the question.  The trouble I have with the system is that these sports will never succeed without support – but when the pie is only so big, how dilute can we water things down?  It’s impossible to solve without an endless supply of government funding…hint, hint…nudge, nudge.  But when a struggling athlete receives the fund and can cut down their shifts at their job to focus a bit more on training, or can afford to pay their coach for a few more hours of coaching, or can get themselves into equipment made in this millennium – well, that’s progress!  And that is what the Canadian Athletes Now Fund does.  Check out this satirical ad the fund put together some years ago.

So if you want to be part of the Canadian Olympic squad that walks into the stadium in London in 14 more months, and you’ve missed the boat on training for a specific sport – this is your way in.  Check out the fund and set up an automatic monthly donation of $10.  They’ll send you the name of the athlete that you are directly supporting.  The athlete you are putting food on the table for.  The athlete who won’t have to wear training clothes from the 1980’s because of your support.  Now that’s pretty cool.  When they make it to their podium performance you will be standing up there right beside them.

Best wishes, Dave

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03/2 2011

Silver to Gold Fundraiser

Hello friends and family,

I am now only 17 month away from the London 2012 Olympic Games.  Scott
Frandsen and I are back in the pair and pushing very hard every day.
I want to be sure we leave nothing to chance en route to our shot at
becoming Olympic Champions.  With that in mind, we are using leading
edge science to ensure that our three pillars of speed – physiology,
technique and hull design are all the best in the world.

Friends and supporters have organized a fund raising event on my
behalf: An evening of excellence and inspiration at the Elk Lake
boathouse, March 31st from 6 to 9 PM.  There will be a silent auction
and I will get up and tell the story of my Olympic Journey; the story
of how I got from a novice rower on Elk Lake to becoming one of
Canada’s great medal hopefuls in London 2012.  Drinks and appetizers
are included in the cost of the ticket.

In order to stay focused on these three pillars I need your help now
more than ever.  This is the most difficult financial period of an
Olympic training cycle.  I have been on an unpaid leave-of-absence
from the BC Public Service for over a year, cash sponsorships are a
lot harder to find than in-kind sponsorships, and with two children to
raise we are accumulating significant debt.  The goal is to sell 200
tickets to the event at $50/ticket, so please buy a ticket and bring a
friend.

Tickets are available through a few ways, you can email london2012gold@gmail.com
for options or by going to LifeMark McKenzie Physiotherapy located at
3941 Shelbourne Street during office hours.

Please share this information with anyone you think might be interested in supporting my dream of standing on top of the medal podium in 17 months!

Thanks so much,
David 

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01/31 2011

CanFUND Matching Push

Today is the last day that the Canadian Athletes’ Fund (aka CanFund) has their dollar-for-dollar match funding campaign on.  This is a fund that has given me over $30K over my athletic career.  When Mira was born, the fund connected with Kushies baby clothes and a box of new clothes magically arrived on our doorstep.  It was great to have some clothes that were not second hand.

If you are interested, if you can, look up Athlete Holiday Drive and donate to the dreams and successes of many Canadian Olympic Athletes.  For a little more insight into the fund, you can find Randy Starkman’s blog from the Toronto Star.

I will apply for both application periods this year, which means I could potentially earn $12 K from the fund this year alone.  That would nearly double my annual income from sport.  That sort of extra funding makes a significant difference in my life.

Thanks for thinking about supporting the fund – and further supporting me!

Dave

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10/31 2010

We race the heat on Tuesday

And we’re off.  The racing started yesterday…but stopped an hour later due to the wind.

Canada had a bunch of boats impacted by the delay.  Although the lightweight women’s 2x races all ran, being the last event to before the cancellation their conditions weren’t ideal.  There’s a photo I saw of the end of that race in which one boat’s bow and stern are both completely submerged at the same time.

I’ve been paying attention to the different wind trends here all week.  I’ve decided it’s impossible to gauge the wind at Karapiro from my hotel room 30 kilometres away – that doesn’t stop me from trying though.  Each morning before I get out of bed I listen for the sound of flags flapping in the wind above our hotel.  Then, as I brew my Discovery Coffee I look out the window at the lamp post banner across the street, and then to the tree tops beyond.  The trouble is they’re always flapping.

I thought I had the pattern down pat: calm until 8:40 AM, and then a slow but steady increase until 10 AM – perfectly set for 10:05 AM and the first race of the day.  That’s what happened yesterday and the day before.  We went for a training row at 7:45 AM this morning and had great water for the first 2 laps, but then the wind started to blow up.  I was thinking that FISA should consider starting the races earlier; then I overheard someone say they can’t start before 10 AM because of the sun’s glare in the photo-finish camera.  Oakley should sponsor FISA too.

The other Canadian boats impacted yesterday by the wind were the heavy women’s 4x, the light men’s 2x and 4-, and the heavy men’s 4-.  Although it sucks to be involved in race delays, I gather it really sucks for lightweights.  To weigh in only to have your race delayed, and then to have to weigh in again.  Luckily something I will never experience!

My prediction today, based on minutes upon minutes of my morning research, suggested the wind would pick up as the morning progressed.  I was wrong.  The conditions improved over the late morning and became nearly perfect.  There’s hope for nicer conditions tomorrow too.

All that said, good thing Bob Ernst taught me not to worry about what’s out of my control.

Dave

Posted in All Blogs, Family, Rowing
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10/19 2010

Skype and the Internet

It’s crazy to think about how I’d stay in touch with family 10 or 15 years ago when I went on rowing trips.  I remember making collect calls to my parents from the pay phone at the rowing course in Munich.  I used to carry the Canadian international phone numbers in my wallet so I could always reach a Canadian operator from anywhere in the world.

Now all I need is an internet connection.  I can talk with my daughter for as long as I want on Skype – and it’s like I’m in the room with her!  I’ve seen my son walking, playing and laughing while I talk with Rachel.  I don’t know how I’d survive a long trip like this without the internet.

Connection’s a bit dodgy here; I have to go to the coffee shop next door to get good internet – and then it’s not cheap – but it gets me back to Victoria with my family for those 30 minutes…and you can’t put a price on being with your family.

Dave

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10/19 2010

A Public Forum

Written for the rowing website www.row2k.com.  I have been asked to write a blog for them periodically through the worlds.  This is my first attempt:

Here goes my first blog for www.row2k.com. Somehow writing a blog for my own website is a lot less intimidating than writing for a website dedicated to my peers. So you should know that in writing this blog I’ve had to ask myself what I should write about – what would be interesting, fresh, a reason for people to want to read my thoughts. The problem though is that row2k is a public forum that anyone can read – including those men I’ll be racing in two weeks time. So again, what can I possibly write about? Or does the question become what can’t I write about?

I can’t tell you what we’re doing in training sessions. I can’t tell you if the boat’s going well or not. I can’t tell you much actually. Certainly I don’t want any of our secrets, our potential for an advantage, to fall into the wrong hands – nor do I want to expose any weakness that might give a competitor the edge. What is left to write about?

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years it’s to hold the utmost respect for those I compete against. I think it was Al Morrow of all people, the longtime Canadian women’s coach, who told me never to give my competition a reason to want to beat me. That was in 1994, my first year on the junior Canadian team. My sister Kim McQueen (nee Calder) embodied this principle through her rowing career, teaching me to be gracious in victory and humble in defeat. I believe that I have held true to these ideals over my rowing career – even in the thickest of rivalries.

My friend and crew-mate Rob Gibson and I were talking today about the ‘internet-age’ and how much more thoughtful we all have to be about what we write. Years ago I would have been able to post a comment about Cal on a message board in the locker room at UW without it getting back to Cal. Guys today have to think long and hard about what they post on their Facebook profile or on a personal website…or a blog-post on row2k. A message intended for a handful of friends could very quickly pass to thousands of viewers in a matter of hours. Rob rephrased what Al told me years ago in his own way: “Don’t give anyone a reason to want to pull any harder than they already do.”

Words to live by.

Dave

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10/17 2010

New Zealand 2010

…and so it starts: New Zealand 2010…

It’s been seven years since I raced at the World Rowing Championships.  Milan, 2003.  If I asked the guys in my 8+ now where the worlds were that year, I bet only one or two would know.  Who can blame them?  Conlin would’ve been 13 years old!  Funny though, I can remember those worlds like they were yesterday – how the wind picked up while we were getting ready to boat for the final.  I was in the 8+ that year too.  The head wind was so bad that the warm-up buoy-line snapped – but it didn’t phase Brian Price (our cox) at all.  The race took six minutes – an extra 30 or more seconds!  I still remember our move at the 250 – how Joe somehow slammed his hands under the rigger for that one stroke; I still remember how hard the other boats were charging in the last 500.

In some ways the 7 year gap makes this regatta seem like ‘just’ another World Cup – no Olympic hype or pressure – and in others it adds more pressure – it’s been so long.  Do those factors somehow negate each other?  I think so…

Dave

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09/14 2010

Preparation for a time trial

The women and the adaptive teams rolled in last night.  I recognized a handful of the athletes from years past and the Henley/Lucerne, but mainly new-to-me faces.  I feel older when all these young faces appear, but it was one of the old faces that made me realize just how long I’ve been rowing for Canada.  Jeff Powell stroked the men’s 8+ to two back-to-back World Championships in 2002 and 2003.  He went on to stroke the 8+ at the 2004 Athens Olympics and then moved on to the real world and started a family.  Jeff was a big stud on the team; he had stroke seat locked for years.  Jeff lives on in folklore; Mike Spracklen reminded me last week that Jeff lead us to the 2003 World Championships at a 36.  Mike emphasized that length and power is more important than the rate-of-striking.  Jeff’s now one of the women’s coaches.  I had been rowing for over a quadrennial BEFORE he became a legend.  Now, over six years after he took his last stroke with the maple leaf on his oar, I’m still chasing the dream.  Perhaps so is Jeff?

We have been ‘sharpening our teeth’ this past week.  The volume is way down and the intensity is way up.  We have done a 1250, three by 1000, and yesterday we did two 500s and two 250s.  When eight tapered men are rowing together in a boat it is CRAZY how hard they can pull to make the boat go fast.  Of course I cannot post times, but this ain’t Kansas and I ain’t in the pair anymore.

We are heading out to test our race warm-up this next session.  The water looks flat and the sun is shining – great conditions that hopefully will be here tomorrow too.  The format for the time trial is similar to a head race.  We have a start time for the first boat, which is also the fastest boat, which of course is the men’s eight.  We race fastest to slowest, so the women’s single will race last.  There will be a standard gap between boats, long enough for the wake of the boat ahead to completely dissipate and not be an issue, as the boat ahead will also be travelling faster than and away from the following boat.  In theory, all boats want to be on the course at the same time, to ensure similar racing conditions.  That said, there are so many boats that it is not possible to have them all on the course at the same time.  The gaps will likely be 45 seconds.  I like the system – it seems fair.  Little issues have to be considered though when you run such a time trial.  A headwind will disadvantage smaller boats, while a tailwind will give a slight edge to smaller boats – never time trial into a headwind.  All boats have to race down the same lane, especially on courses that potentially have a current of some sort.  The distance behind the line that boats start impact their relative speed going through the line – it takes a longer time for an eight to get to speed than any other boat – so all boats have to start on the line or well behind the line.  When you take a closer look, nothing is simple.  Rowing Canada and the coaches have to worry about a bunch of factors.  At the end of the time trial all our times will be compared to our gold medal standards and we will be given a percentage of standard.  The coaches will discuss where to draw the line and who will, and who will not be going to the World Championships in New Zealand later this fall.  For me though, it’s easy…

All I have to do is perform as I’ve been trained.  My coach will worry about the rest.  We race at 9:30 AM (eastern) tomorrow morning.  If you’re in the GTA or Niagara region you should stop by the old Welland Canal and cheer us on!  Go Canada Go.

Dave

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